Hello and welcome to another edition of Our Person of the Week. Capt. Augustine Uwah is a veteran pilot with many years experience.

Capt. Uwah was the First Nigerian to be jet rated in General Aviation (working at
Aero Contractors). Also, he was featured in Topic Magazine (1980) edition – Aerial shots over Lagos Island and also, he was featured on 25th anniversary of Nigeria Independence, on a publication by USIS marking Nigerian/American Industrial
relationship within those years.

Today, he shared with us things we didn’t know about the aviation sector and also dished advice for upcoming pilots.

Good morning Capt. Uwah, please tell us about you.

I am Capt. Augustine Uwah (alias Gustino or SkyKing Austin), the only male child born to a teaching parent in Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria. My elementary school was done along the teaching circuits with my parents while my secondary school was at Methodist Boys High School, Oron in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. This school set the path to my career due to their strict academic curriculum. Their middle grade final maths exam would determine if you are offering Science or Arts course. To me, Science course was what I needed.

Did you always wanted to be a pilot and what was your career path to becoming a pilot?

My mother late Mrs. Theresa A. Uwah (nee Okon), introduced me to studies in astronomy and the planets at the early age of 8.

Ever since, it’s been a journey to reach for stars. My love for geography, a passion for space and beyond, most likely played a major part in my urge to fly.

My Flight training was in Nigeria College of Aero Technology, Zaria (an ICAO established institution).

Where was your first flight (to and from)?


My first flight as a pilot, was in 1969 during the Nigeria civil war, from Calabar to Lagos and back. That sold me, but my first sight and close contact with a flying machine, was ten years before in 1959 during Nigeria pre-independence elections.

Which is ‘easier’ flying a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft?

Flying as a whole is challenging because you have to interact with your equipment (the machine). The fixed wing has the advantage of the wings, which can glide, but the chopper’s stability is as a result of complex coordinating movements of the pilot, working the collective pitch, rotor pedals and the yoke against the elements. I’d say the fixed wing is easier, while the helicopter is more demanding.

Most pilots have their most memorable flight. What’s yours?

My most memorable flight was that which we lost one engine across the Sahara, ferrying a jet across the continent to England for maintenance . We limped with one engine across the massive desert, throwing in everything we learned in school and our combined experiences onto the table. That was very memorable, and we live to savor the bragging rights.

Will you advice people to always put into consideration the airline first or focus more on the aircraft?

All aircrafts are manufactured with safety as the primary goal. I would rather look at the airline operations and safety record when choosing who to fly with, than the types of equipment (aircrafts) on their fleet.

What is your first line of action when you come across  sudden gusts of wind, hailstorms, fog or heavy rain, or turbulence?

First line of action when hit with:
● Wind gust: The pilot needs a razor sharp reflex to kick in with reverse controls to counteract the drift.
● Hailstorm:  The pilot would need igniters, deicers windshield heat turned on, followed by what’s stipulated on the check list.
● Fog or Heavy rain: These are predictable conditions that are available to the pilot prior to departure, through meteorology briefings. Operator’s manual of regulations can determine if such a flight can be done.
● Turbulence: This will need immediate speed reduction to given turbulence penetration speed, for safety and comfort of all aboard. Also the disengagement of the altitude hold on the autopilot.

Does flying get better with experience?

Flying experience, hours logged and retraining programs are great asset to any good pilot.

Most pilots dislike Airbus 380. Why is that? Does it have anything to do with safety?

The Airbus A380 is a fly by wire contraption. Human beings are reluctant to change. Pilots are no exception. We rather yank the yoke and enjoy the flutter of our control surfaces to the wind. But with digitizations, the A 380 has turned out to be the most advanced passenger liner in the world. Like it or not, commercial flying has transcended from cables, clock and dials, to glass cockpit with multiple screens and fly by wire technology. Safety? Yes! We just have to learn the systems that has come to stay and go for retrainings.
What is the real reason for regulating mobile phones on flights ? Does it have anything to do with the navigation and communication systems?
Mobile phones and all wireless communication gadgets may conflict with onboard navigational equipments on aircrafts, due to frequency bands they transmit their signals. Also in this era of radical terrorism, the use of electronic gadgets onboard should be discouraged.
What do you love most about flying and if you could fly anywhere today where would it be and why?
Flying is liberating, filled with adventure and challenging. No touch down is the same. The feelings of the engines’ thrust can only be described by who is at the controls. Given a chance, I would like to fly over the South Pole using the GPS, while watching the magnetic compass topple.
What advice would you pass on to someone who wants to be a pilot?

For the young and aspiring pilots, youth is an advantage and engineering background is a plus. Training in an established institution is very important. Schools like Nigeria College of Aero Tech. Zaria, Oxford Air Trg. School, Oxford, UK, Embry Riddle, Florida, US., Flight Safety, US.,  just to mention a few. An Aviation degree, added to the license puts up front at interviews.

Any advice for us at http://www.chiomaokoyeakpawusi.com?

To the blogger: Someday, I’ll teach you how to. Lots of inspirational moments high up there.

Capt. Uwah🛩
Photo credits: Capt Augustine Uwah and Google images.

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